Hi there: I have a question about the name of a grammatical term. In the "simple present" and the "simple past, (or the "simple tense forms"), what's the meaning of "simple"? does it mean "easy", or "mere"; or "plain", or whatever. in my opinion, the meaning should be the opposite of "compound", e.g; "mere". could you help me? thank you
Junior Member93
The simple tenses are created by the most direct way of conjugating the verb. That might be the reason for them to be called "simple", but there is a different underlying simplicity - the time factor.

The simple tenses are called simple because they show only the action described the verb with respect to a single time reference.
These tenses are contrasted with the progressive tenses which show continuous action over an interval of time and the perfect tenses which refer to a second relative point in time.
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guzhao67what's the meaning of "simple"?
plain -- just one word -- unadorned by any grammatical machinery for creating the progressive or perfect aspects or the passive voice. It's a way of having a term that fits into the following paradigm.

simple perfect
progressive perfect progressive

passive passive perfect
passive progressive passive perfect progressive

Both the term present and the term past can precede any of the eight designators above.
The word continuous can substitute for the word progressive. They both mean the same thing.

Without the term simple, one item in the paradigm would have no name! Emotion: smile

CJ
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CJ:
Thanks for the more detailed explanation. It's only a name, unadorned, plain and simple.

I do have a follow-up question - I thought that active/passive related to the dimension of "voice" rather than tense. Are the passive forms recognized as their own tenses? I had the impression that "tense" was only a temporal dimension, not the transitivity and subject / object inversion.
What about "mood" - such as subjunctive, conditional, etc. How does mood fit with the paradigms of tense and voice?
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Simple form means, "the simplest form of conjugating a verb.".

It doesn't mean "easy". It doesn't mean "mere" neither. It doesn't mean "plain", not by any means.

Although it is "the simplest form of putting a verb in action", it doesn't mean it is "opposite to compound".

See what I mean.

I buy that car.

I do buy that car.

Do I not buy that car?

Should I buy that car?

I f I did buy that car, I would buy gasoline too.

That car is bought by me.

Wasn't that car bought by me?

All of the above are some examples of "Simple Forms".

TIM
New Member30
Anonymous:
CJ, thank you for you kink reply. I just want to say a few more words. At least in my case, the simple present tense is one of the most complicated tense forms in English. its usage covers almost the "entire time". we can see this by the special terms invented by grammarians, based on the occasions in which this simple tense forms occur, such as, timeless present, gnomic present, omnitemporal present, habitual present, instantaneous present, critical present, historical present, etc. it can refer to past, presnt, future, and timeless and even omnitemporal state. And it's really hard to make a clear-cut distinction among these temporal relations. so, I think the "simple" here can mean anything but "easy".
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